Cruiseship docked
Cruises have been unable to dock in Singapore's ports since March.
Gary D Ercole/Getty Images
  • The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has announced its plans to allow cruise lines to embark on “cruises to nowhere,” as reported by The Straits Times.
  • With many international cruise lines banned from docking in Singapore since March due to the coronavirus, the new plans would allow 50% of the original passenger intake.
  • It comes just days after Singapore Airlines canceled its proposed “flight to nowhere” sightseeing tours following criticism.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has begun to explore new health and safety protocols that would allow for “cruises to nowhere,” according to Singapore newspaper The Straits Times.

The new proposal comes after Singapore Airlines (SIA) announced in September that they would offer three-hour sightseeing “flights to nowhere” that would both take off and land at Singapore’s Changi Airport. However, SIA announced earlier this week they would not go ahead following criticism from environmental campaigners, as reported by Insider’s Rachel Hosie.

STB has reportedly hired a Norway-based risk management company, DNV GL, to create a cruise compliance and certification scheme. It will be “benchmarked against global health, safety, and hygiene standards” in order to aid cruise lines who want to begin sailing from Singapore again, The Washington Post reports.

Cruise ships around the world have been left sitting empty, either in ports or anchored out at sea since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in March.

passengers at arrival dock
Passengers of the Costa Fortuna at Singapore's Marina Bay Cruise Center's Arrival Hall, March 2020.
Ee Ming Toh/AP

The cruise industry was shut down in March after a series of coronavirus outbreaks at sea, including the Diamond Princess off the coast of Yokohama, Japan in February, which resulted in staff members and passengers being stranded for weeks, as well as around 700 infections and 14 deaths.

Speaking with The Washington Post, the STB Regional Director of the Americas Rachel Loh advised that cruise lines would need to pass an audit for certification to return to sailing, details of which would be announced at a later date. According to the report, ships will only be allowed to accommodate around 50% of their usual intake for the first three months of operation.

On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended the 'no-sail' ban in the US by another month until October 31, as further action is needed before deciding when sailing can resume.

Travel demand has increased over the past few weeks with tourism companies beginning to offer innovative travel experiences. Tickets for a Qantas 'flight to nowhere' set to sightsee over Australia's Great Barrier Reef sold out within 10 minutes. Those who wanted to voyage on the 134-seat Boeing 787 reportedly paid between $575 and $2,765 depending on ticket class.

A selection of major cruise lines worldwide have also recommenced sailing, with MSC Cruises restarting its Mediterranean voyages in August. Cruise Trade News reports that the Geneva-based global cruise line released a video highlighting its safety measures, with passengers describing cruises as being "safer than any type of holiday."

MSC Cruise
Major cruise lines such as MSC Cruises have already begun sailings in Europe.
James McEntee/AP

Although there is no official date for when the "cruises to nowhere" will begin, Singapore's cruise lines are eager to restart sailings after voluntarily ceasing operation until later in the year, according to The Washington Post.

Cruise giants that operate within Singapore such as Norwegian and Celebrity are holding off until the end of October, although Norwegian has begun to offer cruises within other Asian countries from 2021.

Read the original article on Insider